Mount Kilimanjaro is the Earth’s Highest Free-Standing Mountain
What does that mean and why should you climb Kilimanjaro?
First of all, let’s take a look at what it means to be the highest free-standing mountain on earth. Kilimanjaro is different than most other mountains because it was created by three volcanoes. One of these volcanoes is dormant while the other two are extinct. The one that is dormant could still erupt, but it is unlikely. Kibo is a dormant volcano and is also your destination when climbing Kilimanjaro. It stands at 19,341 feet. The other two are Mawenzi and Shira. Mawenzi is currently off-limits to travel due to its instability. If you climb the Lemosho route you will visit Shira. It is an acclimatization hike on day three. It also has amazing views of the rainforest below from there.
Kilimanjaro was first discovered by the Europeans in the 1840s. Everyone knows that it doesn’t exist until someone at that time from Europe discovers it. Many attempts were made to reach its summit, Uhuru Peak. Hans Meyer, a German geologist, finally made it to the summit in 1889.
Only the most serious of climbers and scientists even attempted to summit this majestic peak. Kilimanjaro’s formidable glaciers and bad weather sent many packing.
In the last 100 years, the weather on Kilimanjaro changed. The glaciers that are approximately 1,400 years old, retreated significantly. In fact, the ice has been disappearing so quickly that scientists believe it could be gone entirely by 2060 if not sooner. The effects of this climate change have yet to be felt.
There is one major thing that the ice melt has already made possible, tourism. Every year, an estimated 30,000 or more people from all over the world visit Tanzania in an attempt to climb Kilimanjaro. Thousands don’t’ reach the summit. They either suffer from altitude sickness, get hypothermia, simply lack willpower, or worse, die.
So why do they do it? More importantly, should you attempt it? Everyone’s reason is different, however, there are some similarities.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that many outdoor enthusiasts want to “conquer” Kilimanjaro. Especially with the popularity of social media like Instagram, it has really made many people’s bucket shortlists. People like to achieve goals and climbing Kilimanjaro is a big achievement.
So why fly all the way to Africa when the US has many mountains to summit that doesn’t cost much or require a guide?
Again Why Climb Kilimanjaro?
We feel that Kilimanjaro stands alone, not only because it is one of the seven summits, but also because Africa has a magical draw to it. Kilimanjaro isn’t just another peak in a range of peaks, it stands by itself just begging to be climbed. For example, Mount Whitney is an amazing peak but it is next to many other amazing peaks. Does climbing Whitney take you to Africa, then a rainforest, followed by glacier territory?
Again, climbing Mount Whitney is great, but is it life-altering? No, or at least for most people, it isn’t. But many people who have climbed Kilimanjaro have said their experience was life-changing. That it was spiritual and that it was the most challenging thing they have ever done.
In today’s age, it is rare that outdoor enthusiasts are in danger. But Kilimanjaro is a real threat, from the terrain to the altitude sickness, a threat that is unpredictable. Approximately 10 people a year die trying to summit Kilimanjaro. When you are sitting at your desk reading this that doesn’t seem scary, just a statistic, but when you are on the mountain it is a real threat.
Your hometown mountain probably doesn’t require you to walk three to five days at a very slow pace just to reach the summit, or constantly monitor yourself and your group for symptoms of altitude sickness. You probably don’t have to get up to use the bathroom three times a night because your body is having difficulty adjusting to the altitude. Mental and emotional breakdowns are common, people just give up before reaching the summit and have to be escorted down. The mental side of the battle is just as important as the physical, and according to many previous climbers, even more so.
For all the hardships, costs, and dangers that people endured while trekking to the roof of Africa most would say they wouldn’t trade it for the world. That’s why here at Kilimanjaro Sunrise we truly believe that climbing Kilimanjaro is an adventure of a lifetime.